No Kid Hungry
The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance’s flagship nutrition education programs are Cooking Matters (CM) and Cooking Matters at the Store (CM@S), evidence-based programs from nationally recognized Share Our Strength that teach under-resourced families how to cook and shop for healthy foods on a budget.
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The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance’s flagship nutrition education programs
are Cooking Matters© (CM) and Cooking Matters at the Store (CM@S), evidence-based programs from nationally recognized Share Our Strength that teach under-resourced families how to cook and shop for healthy foods on a budget. “Cooking Matters is helping end childhood hunger by inspiring families to make healthy, affordable food choices. Our programs teach parents and caregivers with limited food budgets to shop for and cook healthy meals. Cooking Matters is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end hunger and poverty.” The priority audience for CM is caregivers of young children, including parents and grandparents, as this group is most open to behavior change and is forming the lifelong dietary habits for the next generation. In addition to the priority audience focus, CM offers a variety of curricula for kids, teens, families and child care professionals which can be adapted for use in community settings, classrooms, gardens, farmers markets, and more.
CM courses are hands-on, six-session food skills education classes. Most classes run for approximately two hours once a week for six weeks. There are two components to each lesson: An open discussion of nutrition topics based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as well as the preparation and consumption of a balanced and economical meal.
CM@S is a one-time grocery store tour that provides families, seniors, and other shoppers with no-cost, hands-on nutrition education as they shop. Participants learn how to plan and budget for healthy, affordable, and delicious meals for their families.
COVID UPDATE – The safety of our volunteers and participants are our number one priority. As such, we strongly discourage any in-person programming for the time being. When groups are already gathered for other purposes (such as school), in-person programming will be allowed on a case-by-case basis, with the request that recommended safety practices be maintained. We are offering virtual programming and training opportunities. Any questions can be sent to Nutrition Director Samantha Stadter at email@example.com
Cooking Matters SIX-Session Courses
CM courses are hands-on, six-session cooking and nutrition classes. Most classes run for approximately two hours once a week for six weeks. There are two components to each lesson: An open discussion of nutrition topics based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as well as the preparation and consumption of a balanced and economical meal.
CM classes can be taught anywhere with a space to accommodate eight to twelve participants and a place to wash hands, but our most successful classes are hosted at times and locations where participants are already used to meeting. Groceries are needed for preparing recipes in classes, and for those serving adults or families, a bag of take-home groceries is needed for each household, so they can practice the recipe at home. The average cost for a six-session course is $600, and stipends may be available for courses that primarily serve caregivers of young children. All course graduates are provided with take-home cooking equipment provided by the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.
CM curricula include Cooking Matters for Adults, Cooking Matters for Families, Cooking Matters for Parents, Cooking Matters for Childcare Professionals, Cooking Matters Para Adultos, Cooking Matters Para Familias, Cooking Matters for Kids, Cooking Matters for Teens, with locally-developed addenda including CM for Older Adults, Growing My Plate, Take 10 for Teeth, and Nutrition is for Everyone for adults with intellectual disabilities.
All CM course participants complete pre- and post-course questionnaires to gather demographic data and evaluate current food attitudes and behaviors. Results from these two surveys are compared to measure behavior and attitude changes over the duration of the course, with data compiled for each course upon completion. Research has shown that participation in a CM course can
Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains,
Save money on groceries,
Increase confidence to prepare healthy meals at home, and
Reduce household food insecurity by up to 50% (Altarum Institute).
Cooking Matters at the Store tours
CM@S is a one-time grocery store tour that provides families, seniors, and other shoppers with no-cost, hands-on nutrition education as they shop. Participants learn how to plan and budget for healthy, affordable, and delicious meals for their families. The curriculum provides practical information for participants, covering a range of skills, including:
- Economical ways to buy fruits and vegetables,
- Calculating and comparing unit prices,
- Reading nutrition labels and ingredient lists, and
- Identifying whole grains.
Economical ways to buy fruits and vegetables,
Calculating and comparing unit prices,
Reading nutrition labels and ingredient lists, and
Identifying whole grains.
CM@S participants are encouraged to complete the $10 Challenge activity where they plan a balanced meal for four people for $10 or less. All CM@S participants receive a $10 gift card after the tour to create room in their tight food budgets to purchase new, healthier food items. All tour participants receive a reusable gift bag and healthy shopping guide. Curricula include Cooking Matters at the Store for Adults and Cooking Matters at the Store for WIC Parents.
There are 3 different options for CM@S delivery: Traditional, event day, and pop-up. Traditional tours are held in grocery stores where participants are already shopping. In this model, a single facilitator leads a group of six to ten participants through the store to have a conversation about their challenges and successes with healthful eating, as well as sharing tips on saving money and choosing healthier options.
Event days are also held in grocery stores. Facilitators are located at stations in the store’s produce, dairy, bread, and meat departments. Participants receive ‘passports’ that are stamped as they visit each station. This model can provide nutrition education to hundreds of participants in a single day.
For participants that may not have convenient access to a grocery store, we offer pop-up tours at schools, farmers’ markets, food pantries, and places of worship, among others. Facilitators bring demonstration foods and stations to simulate the experience of an in-store tour.
CM Arkansas works on a train-the-trainer model, which means our team trains and supports organizations across the state to bring CM courses to their communities. In 2019, more than 50 partner organizations across the state implemented over 200 courses and tours to over 7,000 kids, teens, and parents! To find more about how partnering works, check out Bringing Cooking Matters To Your Community.
Volunteer roles include culinary instructor, nutrition instructor, class shopper, class assistant, course coordinator, tour facilitator, event day station volunteer, or data entry. Courses are volunteer intensive and can take anywhere from one to ten volunteers committing up to 25 hours of time over the duration of a six-session course. At least one volunteer for each course is required to complete a three-hour in-person training, which are scheduled regionally on an as-requested basis. If you’d like to set up a training for your organization, contact Nutrition Director Jami Kirksey at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our volunteer application if you would like to get involved as an individual.
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